Michael Oliver, as far as refs go, seems to be one of the more decent ones.
I said in my ref preview before the game that I didn’t expect any problems with Oliver and, for the most part, that’s how it panned out over the course of the 90 minutes at the AMEX.
While Brighton’s manager, Chris Hughton, is bemoaning a penalty not given to his side for handball (when it was struck at Calum Chambers from a yard away) Arsenal could similarly be asking for one for the exact same thing in the first half when Theo attempted to cross the ball inside the box. A obvious shirt pull on Olivier Giroud in the box in the second half similarly went unpunished.
Questions have to be asked about Brighton’s first goal as well.
In the move leading up to the goal there seemed to be a clear offside (no replay was offered) and then it could very well have been a foul on Chambers as the ball was headed back into the box by Brighton after using the Englishman as a stepladder. Arsenal didn’t help themselves, of course, with their attempt at defending, but it probably shouldn’t have required them to deal with the problem in the first place had the whistle gone.
A foul late on in the game on Chuba Akpom also poses more questions.
The forward had flicked the ball past the entire Brighton backline and was clean through on goal if he hadn’t been taken out. While the Brighton defender was booked, he could have quite easily have been sent-off because although two players sandwiched Akpom out of the game, had they not done that he was going to be one-on-one with the keeper with no defenders between him and the goal. It was a clear goalscoring opportunity.
There was also a challenge on Laurent Koscielny in the 18th minute which was late and nasty. Oliver saw it and played advantage but did not return to the incident and he also awarded a freekick against Aaron Ramsey for simply sliding alongside a Brighton player and not actually touching him.
In the end, however, those aren’t major gripes, the problems in the lead up to Brighton’s first perhaps the biggest mistake Oliver and his chums made.
Given the standard of refereeing that we have seen this season, he had a relatively decent game and I’d happily have him again.
That’s two weeks in a row that I haven’t moaned about the referee. It’s not related to the wins, but, rather, to the fact that both Oliver and Dean last week, seemed to have actually had a clue what they were doing.
That’s all we ask.
What are the odds that we get Anthony Taylor next week for Villa?
Remember how that went on the opening day of last season?